|Fast break: Celtics-Thunder||12.04.09 at 10:24 pm ET|
Before the Celtics went on their four-game road trip the mood around the team was one of unease. They were winning games, mostly, but they were making things very hard on themselves. The double-digit blowouts were just a distant memory.
One week later the Celtics will return to Boston as the hottest team in the Eastern Conference, winners of seven straight and proud owners of a four-game road sweep. They capped it off with an impressive 105-87 win over the young and exciting Oklahoma City Thunder, a day after gutting out a win over the San Antonio Spurs.
On the trip the Celtics returned to their dominant defensive roots and played smart, efficient basketball on the offensive end. They will have a well-earned three days off before their next game back at the TD Garden against Milwaukee on Tuesday.
Player of the Game: Kevin Garnett. You could have picked any number of Celtics for the coveted Green Street Player of the Game award, but KG gets the nod for scoring 23 points on 10-of-11 shooting with eight rebounds and a couple of tasty dunks. It’s impossible to say at this point if KG is back to being the KG of old, but he sure looked like it on the road trip.
Turning Point: Oklahoma City made it clear early on that it was going to try to run. A good strategy by coach Scott Brooks considering his team’s youth and the Celtics long road trip. There was only one problem: The C’s wanted to run as much as the Thunder did and they did it much, much better. A 15-5 run erased an early three-point lead and put the Celtics in the drivers seat.
* The worst thing that could happen to the Thunder was foul trouble and Nick Collison lived in it all night long. Without Nenad Kristic, the Thunder simply didn’t have enough size to match up with the Celtics inside.
* Garnett got free for a number of easy dunks and he finished strong on each of them. He looks positively rejuvenated on this trip.
* After a slow start Rajon Rondo turned it on in the second half finishing with 15 points and six assists.
* Paul Pierce and Kevin Durant put on a good show in the first half with Durant scoring 22 and Pierce going off for 21 points. Durant is a phenomenal offensive player, but his defense has a long way to go before he can join the upper echelon of stars.
|Sunday Afternoon NBA Analysis||11.23.08 at 12:44 pm ET|
Checking in on a couple of fairly big developments in the NBA this weekend, while watching the Celtics and the Raptors. On Friday night, the Knicks moved two big contracts (Zach Randolph and Jamal Crawford) and moved closer toward fulfilling their rebuilding plan, while out in the place that stole the Sonics from Seattle, the Robber Barons axed P.J. Carlesimo.
First, the Knicks. Most fans are already sick of hearing about the 2010 free agency class, but for roughly half the teams in the league, getting cap space is their reason for being. The Knicks, meanwhile, have put a big blinking sign on the marquee at Madison Square Garden saying “OPEN FOR BUSINESS–2010,” ever since Donnie Walsh to clean up the toxic spew that Isiah Thomas left behind.
On Friday, the Knicks traded Randolph and Mardy Collins to the Clippers for Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley and dealt Crawford to Golden State for unhappy forward Al Harrington. Those moves were genius in that they replaced three players who would be due $30 million in 2010-11 with three players who will be due nothing. Nada.